Two weeks ago alto saxophonist and jazz researcher Mario Schneeberger, his wife Christel and me went to the Schloss Wartegg in Rorschacherberg for a CD release party by swiss born pianist Claude Diallo who is a Boston resident now. This afternoon concert was a bonus event to a mini-tour of switzerland that Claude Diallo had organized for legendary tenor saxophonist Andrew “Andy” Mc Ghee (born in 1927). McGhee was a member of Lionel Hamptons’ orchestra from 1958 to 1964. He then played with Woody Herman until 1966 when he joined the faculty of Berklee College of Music, where he still is listed as Professor Emeritus. Continue reading
Archive for the jazz Category
It is only just now that I hear of the passing of trumpeter Roy Campbell jr. who died on January 9th – the same day that Amiri Baraka passed. Campbell only reached the age of 62. I saw him playing on two or three occasions in the 1980s and remember liking his playing very much. Wanting to listen to him again now, I find to my surprise I unfortunately have not one record featuring him. But only some weeks ago I happened to digitize a brilliant 45 minute TV broadcast with the quintet of another Great Black Music Legend, Billy Bang, who already had left us in 2011. Campbell is the other main solist besides Bang.
So here is the Billy Bang Quintet at the Jazztage Leverkusen on November 1, 1986. Besides Bang and Roy Campbell the band contains Oscar Sanders (g) William Parker (b) and Zen Matsuura (dr).
Maybe it is unfair to say “there was a time when more jazz was featured on TV”. I would not really know, because I stopped watching TV a while ago. Of course here in switzerland there is still some jazz on the public TV, late at night at some time.
But in the 1980s there was still some jazz to be seen and witnessed by people who did not expect to be treated with jazz when they turned on the TV. There were some broadcasts on swiss TV which you could say were in some kind of “magazine” format. Maybe some news from different regions, a talkshow guest, a funny report — you get the picture. At the end they always had a short slot for musical artists of every genre that happened to be in Switzerland – just a few minutes to promote their tour.
My friend, the late jazz researcher Otto Flückiger, must have scanned the TV program magazines every week to see if an interesting (interesting to him that is) band or musician would appear – since he managed to tape quite a lot of this jazz, blues and soul bits. I am offering you a little potpourri here of different things you could see – if you were aware when and where to look.
I really thought I was finished with digitizing all the McCoy Tyner Video I found on my friend’s old VHS cassettes. But I discovered that there is even more footage from Montreux 1973 than I thought.
(Click to enlarge) Sleeve for souvenir photographs from the Crown Propeller Lounge, unidentified date. From the Crown Propeller collection
The Crown Propeller Lounge – after which this blog is named – was one of Chicago’s most important venues for R’n'B and Jazz during the 1950s. You can read more about it on my old blog entry here. After reading that post, Mike Medina (aka WayoutWardell) contacted me and identified more of the people pictured in this gorgeous photo, donated to the Crown Propeller blog by the Schlossberg family (also check the comments section over there for more interesting information from Mike).
(Click to enlarge) Dancer Lupita Peruyero, Joe Louis, Norman Schlossberg, Sarah Vaughan, King Kolax and Mitzi Mars at the Crown Propeller, probably 1952. Courtesy of the Schlossberg family
I had recognized trumpeter King Kolax and boxer Joe Louis with Crown Propeller owner Norman Schlossberg and Mike added the name of dancer Lupita Peruyero (far left) who was a regular at the Crown Propeller and knew that the lady on the far right is singer Mitzi Mars – of which I had presented some music in my old blog entry about the CP.
From Chicago Defender, May 31, 1952.
Taken from Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”
Mike also kindly allowed me to use the photo of this bautiful foursome at the Crown Propeller in 1945 – a time when the main audience of the CP was still white.
If you are interested in photographs from Chicago’s South Side, you definitely should check Mike’s Flickr page. It was also Mike who alerted me, that the sign of the Crown Propeller lighting up can be seen in the opening sequence of the old “Crime Stories” TV series. I managed to find that one on youtube. I edited the CP part and let it run backwards and forwards – the way it possibly was. I guess there was something in the middle as well (a crown, maybe?) – I leave it to your imagination.
Ending up our second visit to the famed Crown Propeller Lounge is photo of a young couple at the bar, probably in the 1950s. This was stuck in the souvenir envelope pictured at the very top of the envelope.
Who might they have listened to on that evening? Rudy Greene maybe, the “King Of The Guitar”?
From the early sixties on (check his Impulse! album “It’s Time”) drummer Max Roach started to work with larger formations than his quintet (or quartet) from time to time. He added choirs for several recordings and in the 1980s he sometimes added a string quartet (mostly the Uptown String Quartet in which his daughter Maxine played) to his quartet with Cecil Bridgewater, Odeon Pope and Tyrone Brown.
As far as the larger Max Roach groups are concerned, there seems to be not much footage around on the internet. So I am happy to offer you three actually quite long clips here you may not have seen before.
The first one is Max Roach featured with the Northern Colorado University Big Band at the Jazz Festival Montreux one June 15, 1971. They are playing a very churchy suite here (see comments for possible titles).Pianist/organist is Stanley Cowell, the trumpet player / conductor is Charles Tolliver (thanks, Trane!). I can not identify any of the other band members (are you out there?).
The other two clips are from nineteen years later. First are more than 56 minutes of the Max Roach Double Quartet at the Jazzgipfel in Stuttgart, 1990 – I do not know the exact date. You’ll see and hear Max Roach (dr), Odean Pope (ts), Cecil Bridgewater (tp), Tyrone Brown (b), John Williams (violin), Cecelia Hobbs (violin), Maxine Roach (viola), Eileen Folson (cello). Sorry for the abrupt ending, the cassette ended here, and I did a short fade out.
In the same year Max Roach also took a large choir – The John Motley Singers – along with his quartet and pianist George Cables to Europe playing two hour concerts at the Jazz Festivals in Umbria and Verona in Italy and Lugano (Switzerland). You may have heard part of the material on the Enja 2CD set “To The Max!”. The Lugano concert on June 29 was broadcast in full on Swiss TV (do not worry, the voice-over soon stops):
Right after I had finished this post. naturally I found even more footage of McCoy Tyner.
In 1989 Tyner was touring the European Jazz Festival circuit with his Trio featuring guitarist/singer George Benson as an added attraction. I have presented footage from their gig at the Montreux Jazz Festival in my last entry . But i found more. Here are over 40 minutes of George Benson, McCoy Tyner, Avery Sharpe, Aaron Scott playing in Umbria, Italy:
And here are sixteen minutes of the same band playing at the Jazz Festival in Wiesen, Austria:
The final part of this little McCoy Tyner Showcase is his Trio – still featuring Avery Sharpe and Aaron Scott – joined by Freddie Hubbard and Ralph Moore. This footage comes from the Jazztage Stuttgart 1990.
Revision Note (Jan. 11, 2014): I have replaced the clip from Umbria 1985 with a working version.
McCoy Tyner at Jazz Festival Montreux, 1973
Still in the process of cutting large movie files taken from VHS cassettes into clips, I noticed that my friend, the late Otto Flückiger has quite a lot of concert footage with bands either led by pianist McCoy Tyner or featuring him prominently. The reason for so much footage with Tyner in Otto’s collection is not necessarily because Otto was fanatic about Tyner. Otto taped everything from the TV that was in what way ever connected to Jazz. And McCoy Tyner made a lot of tours in the 1970s and 1980s, his group was a regular feature on Jazz festivals around the world. So it really is no wonder that there is a lot of McCoy here.
Mainly to get a grasp of what is there, I have extracted all of the McCoy Tyner footage on these cassettes. Now that I am finished doing so, I thought why not present these rare clips on this here blog.
So here we go, starting with the earliest footage I found of one of Tyner’s own groups. Here is the McCoy Tyner Quartet at the Jazz Festival Montreux, July 7, 1973
The band consists of Tyner (p), Azar Lawrence (sax), Juini Booth (b), Alphonse Mouzon (dr). The way I understand it, parts of this concert also have been released on an LP. Since I do not own this one, I can not tell you what exactly is being played here.
Going on chronologically we stay in Montreux with a clip from July 18, 1981 showing the concert of a band called “The New York – Montreux Connection:
The band: Arthur Blythe, Paquito D’Riviera, Jimmy Heath,Percy Heath, McCoy Tyner, Chico Freeman, Slide Hampton, Phil Woods, Ronnie Burrage, John Blake, Stanley Cowell, John Hicks, Steve Mc Call. Note that there is also an unidentified alto saxophonist taking a solo later in the program. He is adressed as “Paul ….”, but I can’t understand his last name. So if you have an idea …
Next are more than fifty minutes of the McCoy Tyner Quintet at the Saalbau in Aarau, Switzerland, on February 24, 1984:
The Quintet in this clip: McCoy Tyner (p), Gary Bartz (sax), John Blake (violin), John Lee (eb), Wilby Fletcher (dr).
In 1985 McCoy Tyner was in Europe again, with a new trio featuring bassist Avery Sharpe and drummer Louis Hayes. At their apperance at the Estival Jazz in Lugano Pharoah Sanders was featured with the band. But the concert was started by the trio alone:
I do not have the whole concert, just three different parts from three different source VHS cassettes. The chronologically next portion of the Lugano concert is the one that features Sanders. I had alredy presented that one here some time ago, but for the sake of completeness, here it is gain:
I do not know if Pharoah Sanders was featured even longer on this concert, all that is here is the encore from that gig, featuring just the trio again:
Next up are two clips from Italian TV. Unfortunately quality is not too good here. Here are Tyner, Sharpe and Hayes at the Jazz Festival in Umbria 1985:
And here they are a year later at the Jazz Festival in Pescara:
In 1986 the trio also appeared on the German TV series “Jazz im Subway”, the Subway being a Jazz Club in Cologne:
I just have this excerpt from the show, showing McCoy playing a solo version of “You Taught My Heart To Sing” (Notice the funny subtitle, maybe someone from the TV station did not like the music?).
Last but not least a clip that was a personal surprise for me in more than one way. First: I did not know that Tyner played with George Benson – which he apparently did more than once. Secondly because I had dismissed George Benson as being xxx (well I do not want to hurt any sensitive George Benson fans). But I actually like this one very much:
The above clip comes from the 1989 Montreux Jazz Festival. Besides Benson and Tyner you will see and hear bassist Avery Sharpe and drummer Aaron Scott.
As promised in this post, I am reposting the images from the performance by Frank Foster’s “Living Colours” Big Band at the Village Vanguard on April 4, 1980 – this time with some music.
About 70 minutes of music from this evening survive on a tape that has been digitally transferred to CD by Otto in the early 1990s. While the original tape box does not carry information at all, some information is attached to the CD.
The rudimentary CD cover can not be trusted though. For example Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” which I am presenting you here, is not the second track on the CD, but the first. Likewise Title 5, “Joy Spring(s?)” is indeed a “Minor Blue Waltz”, at least in form and content. I will have to bring this in a meaningful order some day …
So here are all of Otto’s photos from the April 4 1980 concert again. If you can identify anyone for sure, to help get rid of the question marks on the CD’s listing, please let me know (but please check the comment section from the old blog entry about this event first).
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Welcome to the second installment of the loose series featuring some of the jazz and r’n'b tenor saxophonists that played in the clubs of Chicago in the 1940s and 1950s.
Although when talking about tenor saxophonists from Chicago one usually thinks of the Lester Young school of playing, relaxed, cool and way behind the beat, this town definitely had more to offer.
Eddie Johnson featured with the Jo Pernell Combo.
Chicago Defender, August 2, 1952.
From Franz Hoffmann’s “Jazz Advertised”.
The late Eddie Johnson (1920–2010) for example cited Lester Young as his greatest influence, yet that is not too obvious if you listen to his records. You can read all about Eddie Johnson at the page dedicated to him at at the Red Saunders Research Foundation by the way. After playing in lesser known bands for a while, Johnson joined Louis Jordan’s Tympany Five in early 1947, staying until the end of the year. In 1951 and 1952 he recorded some sides for Chess Records, before the label began to concentrate on Blues. In 1958 Johnson recorded as a sideman in a large James Moody group, and in 1964 he replaced Paul Gonsalves in the Duke Ellington Orchestra from time to time, when Gonsaves had problems related to substance abuse. After his last session for Chess in 1952, it took almost thirty years before Johnson recorded under his name again – for Chicago based Nessa Records. (he also recorded under his own name for Delmark in 1999).
But here’s Eddie in his younger days. “Twin Rock”, played by Johnson (ts), Claude Jones (p), Johnny Pate (b) and Oliver Coleman (d), was recorded for Chess at the Universal Studios in Chicago on September 12 1952. Billboard had this to say: “Instrumental is carried nicely by Johnson’s sax. It’s pleasant enough and could get some juke action”. So judge for yourself:
The next track I am offering you is special for different reasons. Eugene “Gene” Wright, later bassist with Dave Brubeck’s Quartet, had a nice band called Eugene Wright and his Dukes of Swing for a while in the 1940s. Red Holloway played with the Dukes of Swing as did Yuseef Lateef (at that time still known as Bill Evans). Neither Holloway nor Lateef were on the session from which I am offering you a piece here. But the band’s arranger and pianist who is playing on “Music Goes Round And Round” is none other than Sonny Blount – later known as Sun Ra! Another interesting figure also on this session is trumpeter Hobart Dotson – who later recorded with Sun Ra and with Charlie Mingus (somebody should definitely do an english language Wikipedia entry for Dotson!)
But what about the tenor saxophonist we can hear here? His name is Melvin Scott. That you may never had heard of him before may well be based on the fact that this seems to be his only recorded session. On the Willie Jones page of the Red Saunders Research Foundation, you can find some photos featuring Scott.
“Music Goes Round And Round” was recorded in December 1948 for Aristocrat Records, the forerunner of Chess Records. Billboard wrote: “A jump version of the Riley-Farley japery. It’s old enough – and the times are musically out of joint enough – to come back. Who knows?”
Melvin Scott only has a few bars here before baritonist Van Kelly takes over, but these bars sure are hot:
Part 3 of the second installment comes from a favourite of mine, the unjustly forgotten tenor player John Neely (1930–1994):
Neely’s fluid, light hearted and relaxed phrasing is more typical of the style saxophonists from Chicago are known for. You can hear that well on Count Basie’s “One O’Clock Jump” as recorded by the band of pianist King Fleming around March 1954. You’ll hear John Neely, King Fleming, bassist Russell Williams and drummer Aubrie Jones. The singing is possibly by the band members except for the female voice who probably is Lorez Alexandria or Ethel Duncan. You can find more information about this session on the King Fleming page of the Red Saunders Research Foundation where there also some photos of John Neely:
There are very few solos known by Neely – and all are great. My friend, the late jazz researcher Otto Flückiger heard Neely when Neely was in Lionel Hampton’s orchestra during its 1961 European tour – and loved his playing right away. It took 36 years before Otto was to hear another John Neely solo again – King Fleming had told Robert Campbell that it was John Neely playing those wonderful lines on Fleming’s Blue Lake outing.
I love this record so much that I had to acquire the red wax 45rpm when it turned up for sale:
But although it looks gorgeous, the 78rpm sounds much better, so I put that one up.
Someday – I hope soon – I will do a posting on Neely, presenting you two solos with the Hampton band which Mario Schneeberger and me recently discovered to be by Neely.And of course watch this space for further installments of the Chicago Tenor Sax series (go here to read and hear the first part)!